It was a tough go for my MLB Picks last night as it was an 0-2 night, our first such night of the MLB season as we hit out first drought of the year as well.
I had the Rays and Angels to go under the 8-run total, and we were on edge for much of the game. The Rays scored four in the third and led 5-0 after four. The Angels then got to Tyler Glasnow for three runs in the sixth, but at least we had a push heading into the ninth. That’s when the Rays’ Manuel Margot launched a two-run home to break the push and hand us a loss instead.
At about the same time, the Jays and A’s were duking it out in Oakland where I had the Jays as slight moneyline underdogs. The score was 3-3 until the fifth when the A’s plated a pair. Toronto got within one in the eighth, but that would be it in a 5-4 A’s final.
The 0-2 night cost us exactly two units on the night as we’ll look to rebound with this White Sox vs. Reds pick from Cincinnati!
- Season Record: 5-7
- Units: -2.64
White Sox vs. Reds Betting Odds
- White Sox (+101)
- Reds (-111)
- White Sox -1.5 (+149)
- Reds +1.5 (-169)
- Over 9.5 (-104)
- Under 9.5 (-116)
White Sox vs. Reds MLB Pick Breakdown
The White Sox will send young right-hander Dylan Cease to the mound for his sixth start of the season tonight, and the 25-year-old has been very good through the first month of the season.
Cease got away with some scary peripherals en route to a 4.01 ERA across 12 starts in the shortened 2020 season, but now everything looks spot on for the budding youngster here in the 2021 campaign.
Cease enters this one sporting a 2.96 ERA on the season, and while his peripherals are a little above that figure, you’re picking straws arguing with a 3.27 FIP/4.09 xFIP/3.92 xERA and 4.08 SIERA. Cease is once again enduring some command issues in the form of a 4.44 BB/9 on the season, but it’s at least an improvement from his 5.25 mark last season while his strikeout rate has popped from 6.79 K/9 last season to 10.73 this time around.
Statcast has Cease pretty much right in the middle of the league in terms of xBA, xwOBA, xERA, xSLG, etc., but when it comes to his stuff he ranks in the league’s 83rd percentile in chase rate, 93rd in fastball velocity, 96th in fastball spin and 82nd in curve spin. Clearly, the guy has some great stuff this season and despite his middling Statcast metrics in other areas, his ERA and peripherals seem to like his work very much.
The blows keep coming for the White Sox offense as the well-documented news of Luis Robert’s long-term hip flexor injury has rattled the baseball world. Robert is set to miss at least 3-4 months with the ailment, joining another young stud White Sox outfielder in Eloy Jimenez on the 60-day IL after the latter tore a chest muscle leaping for a fly ball at the wall in spring training.
With fellow outfielder Adam Engel also out with a hamstring issue that doesn’t seem to be improving, the White Sox outfield picture is murky at best. Adam Eaton is the mainstay in right, but the team will likely turn to Billy Hamilton in center with Leury Garcia likely to get time there as well. A first baseman by trade, Andrew Vaughn has been patrolling left field in Jimenez’s absence, but he’s without a homer and a .098 ISO through the first 59 trips to the plate of his career.
Amazingly, the White Sox offense actually ranks first in baseball with a 6.1 fWAR and seventh with a .324 wOBA, although Robert was leading the club with a 1.1 fWAR on the season.
We’ll see if the out-of-nowhere Yermin Mercedes can continue to rake, but it’s unlikely. He and Robert share identical, bloated .433 BABIPs, so he’s not going to hit .395 much longer. That said, Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada are both raking and Nick Madrigal is living up to the prospect hype with a .313 average and 124 wRC+ on a reasonable .321 BABIP. They’ll need Jose Abreu to find his stroke as he’s hitting just .202 with a 96 wRC+ despite hitting five homers while Yasmani Grandal has struggled mightily with a .127 average and .292 wOBA so far this season.
You would think the Abreu’s and Grandal’s of the world will get things turned around, and they’ll likely need to in order to keep this offense in the league’s top-10.
The rotation and offense were expected to be dynamite here in the 2021 season, but those who truly follow the game were hyped about this team’s bullpen.
It’s a bullpen that ranked sixth with a 3.81 ERA on the season in 2020, and added the league’s best reliever from the last two seasons in Liam Hendriks to lock things down in the ninth.
The group hasn’t quite delivered on the surface as of yet, however, as they sit 22nd with a 4.41 ERA on the season, although their 3.81 FIP and 3.65 xFIP rank ninth and fifth, respectively. Statcast has them right in the middle of the pack in terms of hard hit rate and barrel rate, but their 3.50 K/BB on the season is the third-best figure in the league.
Hendriks has been solid with a 3.97 ERA, but his 2.04 xERA and 2.20 xFIP suggest he’s been even better, especially considering his 15.09 K/9 against just 0.79 BB/9. The fire-balling Garrett Crochet has been fantastic, as has Aaron Bummer, Michael Kopech and Jose Ruiz while they wait for Matt Foster and Codi Heuer to get straightened out.
The Reds will send an offseason trade acquisition to the mound for this one tonight as right-hander Jeff Hoffman makes his sixth start of the season as the surface results have been nice through the first five.
Hoffman owns a 3.33 ERA on the young season, but regression is coming. He also owns a 5.75 xERA, 4.63 FIP and 4.70 xFIP to go along with a 5.15 SIERA. He’s struck out just 7.04 batters per nine innings while also issuing walks at an unfavorable 4.44 BB/9 rate.
Additionally, Statcast is not a fan, whatsoever. They have him ranked in the league’s 15th percentile or worse in xwOBA, xERA and xBA. Additionally, he’s 25th or worse in hard-hit rate, average exit velocity, walk rate, K-rate and xSLG while sitting in the 33rd percentile in barrel rate. He only grades above league average in fastball velocity (64th) and fastball spin (83rd).
He’s still dancing around trouble. He walked five against the Dodgers in four innings his last time out, but allowed just one hit and therefore just three earned runs. If you walk five against the Dodgers again — or this White Sox lineup tonight — it’s going to be much worse.
We’ll see if Hoffman can either figure it out or Houdini around some more traffic in this one tonight.
The big story around the Reds this season as been that offense, one that’s surprised its way near or at the top of the league in many categories.
They’ll enter this one first in baseball with a .338 wOBA on the season, first with a .198 ISO and tied for fifth with a 109 wRC+ on the season. They also pace baseball with 43 home runs on the season, hence the first-place isolated power figure.
Its been a team effort. The Reds have seven players with at least 35 plate appearances sporting a wRC+ figure above 100, otherwise known as being above league average. That’s severely been the case with the likes of Nicholas Castellanos and Jesse Winker while Tucker Barnhart, Tyler Naquin and Mike Moustakas are certainly in on the action as well alongside rookie Tyler Stephenson. There’s a whole lot of bloated BABIP figures on the Reds as well, however. In fact, these two teams rank first (White Sox) and fifth (Reds) in terms of BABIP on the season.
Nonetheless, you can’t fault them for mashing the baseball, either. They have flex plenty of muscle so it will be up to Cease and an electric White Sox bullpen to keep this group in check after they just hung 13 runs on the White Sox their last time out, although they’ve also been shutout twice over their last eight games.
Here’s where things get dicey for the Reds as that bullpen just has not been very good this season.
Entering this one, only the Detroit Tigers sport an inferior bullpen ERA to the Reds’ 5.76 figure. While I’d like to tell you positive regression should be had, that’s not the case as it is with Chicago. The Reds also rank 30th with a 5.09 FIP, dead last with a 4.98 xFIP, dead last with a 5.67 BB/9, 28th with a Statcast 43.5% hard-hit rate against and 26th with a 10.1% barrel rate against as well. That’s… not good.
That bullpen was battered for six earned runs their last time out against the Cubs and closer Amir Garrett has seemingly lost his closer’s role with his 10.38 ERA/7.86 xERA to go along with a huge 44.4% hard-hit rate and 14.8% barrel rate. Veteran left-hander Sean Doolittle sports superior figures and could very well get the ball in the ninth moving forward.
White Sox vs. Reds MLB Pick
Perhaps the Robert injury has scared the general public as the line as gone from -120 last night all the way to +101 today for the Sox, and I’m all over it.
They have the clear-cut pitching advantage both to start and to finish. Cease’s quality work is backed up by his peripherals while Hoffman’s peripherals paint a shellacking at some point moving forward. While the Sox bullpen doesn’t sport a high-end ERA figure, their peripherals are fabulous while the Reds’ bullpen has been a dumpster fire for the entire season, backed up by extremely poor peripherals as well.
Perhaps the Reds can somehow find a way to slug their way to victory as they have many times this season with some weak pitching both in the rotation and bullpen, but the value here is on the White Sox on the moneyline.